Reading is an essential skill that enriches our lives in countless ways, but sometimes it can be difficult to incite this passion for reading in young ones, or we may feel as if we don’t know what books they will like.
As the terrific author Neil Gaiman said, “I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. It’s tosh. It’s snobbery and it’s foolishness. We need our children to get onto the reading ladder; anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy”.
Finding a favourite author can be a key way to unlocking a love for reading so we’ve collected some suggestions here to get you started.
First of all, Neil Gaiman himself is an excellent writer with many riveting stories across all age groups which means that picking up any of his books could lead to a new passion for reading that can be carried into adulthood.
Coraline is currently a staff pick in store having won the hearts of our staff as well as many children. Coraline thinks she’s found her perfect world through an old door in her new house until she realizes that it’s not quite what it seems. This novel can get a little spooky but never fear – Coraline is smart, resourceful and brave. Coraline is suitable for ages 11+.
Norse Mythology, a non-fiction text from Gaiman, offers an engaging read to all ages including adults. Norse Mythology offers a more narrative based and interesting retelling of old Norse myths, breathing new life into the classic tales.
Gaiman’s frequent collaborator Chris Riddell is an amazingly talented illustrator, but he also possesses a talent for writing and was named the UK’s Children’s Laureate 2015-2017. Riddell recorded his experience travelling, talking, reading and drawing as the Children’s Laureate in his wonderful book Travels with my Sketchbook. It includes work in progress for children’s book illustrations as well as his work as a political cartoonist - there’s something for every reader.
Riddell combined both his talents to create the Goth Girl series – starting with Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse. Ada Goth is a very bright and inquisitive girl who loves to solve a good mystery and who has a new ghostly visitor, Ishmael the mouse. All the books in this series contain a unique and engaging story that will keep small hands turning the pages but also include many of Riddell’s elaborate and fantastic illustrations, as well as fun literary and historical references. Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is suitable for advanced solo readers, aged 7 and up.
It can also be a great idea to pursue an interest your child already has in order to lead them into the joy of reading.
For lovers of animals – Zoe’s Rescue Zoo series by Amelia Cobb is always popular. In each novel, Zoe must learn about a new animal her uncle has brought home in order to make it feel welcome in her family’s Rescue Zoo – a task which is made much easier because Zoe can secretly talk to animals. The Picky Puffin is a great one to start with as puffins are Zoe’s favourite animal. These novels can help combine a love for animals and reading, and they also have beautiful illustrations. This series is suitable for readers aged 6/7.
If your child is a big fan of Minecraft and you’re looking to cut down on screen time, they may be interested in the Diary of a Minecraft Zombie series which lets them peek into the mind of a 12-year-old Minecraft zombie. Each novel has a standalone tale of Zack Zombie’s adventures which makes for fun reading with plenty of Minecraft references and inside jokes. These books can also tackle real life issues like Book 2: Bullies and Buddies, which confronts the issue of bullying.
Once again Neil Gaiman said it best: “You’re finding out something as you read that will be vitally important for making your way in the world. And it’s this: The world doesn’t have to be like this. Things can be different.” Encouraging children to read in whatever capacity is the most meaningful gift you can give them, especially when it blossoms into a lifelong love of reading.
NOTE: All above quotes from Neil Gaiman are from his fantastic book Art Matters, illustrated by Chris Riddell - which we also highly recommend.